Barack's Berlin Gym Encounter: Obama Felt 'Hustled' by German Journalist
Barack Obama's encounter with a German reporter while working out in a Berlin gym last week has become an issue in the US, where bloggers are calling the story embarrassing. Now Obama has given his version of events: "She hustled us."
Bild reporter Judith Bonesky with Barack Obama in the gym.
The story contained a florid description of Obama's physical attributes, praising his "well-trained arms," "his tight rear view," and how he lifted the masculine 32-kilogram (70-pound) dumbbells "first 10 times with his right arm, then 10 times with his left." And then there was the culmination: "Barack put his arm around my shoulders. I held him round the waist. Wow! He isn't even sweating!" And, lastly, there was Bonesky's conclusion: "What a man!"
Obama Says He Didn't Know She Was a Reporter
Now Obama has revealed how he experienced the encounter. "She hustled us," he told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
So, according to Obama, he didn't know she was a reporter.
By contrast, here's Bonesky's version: "The door opens. It's really HIM! At 1.87 meters (6.14 feet), he's much taller than I'd imagined. He is wearing a gray T-shirt and black sweatpants, both from Nike, with white jogging shoes from Asics. And a dazzling smile! 'Hallo, how are you?,' he asks in English in his strong , very masculine voice. I reply: 'Very good. And how are you?' He responds: 'Very well, thanks!'"
"I call out: 'Mr Obama, sorry, could I take a picture?' He smiles: 'Of course!' Obama asks me my name. I reply: My name is Judith.' He says: 'I'm Barack Obama. Nice to meet you, Judith!'"
A spokesman for Bild told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the newspaper "doesn't want to make any further comments on its own reporting."
Everything is subjective. Bild even published a video on its Web site with the introduction: "Bonesky can hardly believe her luck." The reporter describes Obama as "very cute," and says, "I'm still in a dream."
Obama saw the newspaper and the headline that same evening, at 10:45 p.m., while he was eating dinner at a Berlin restaurant. While there, Bild editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann presented him in person with a copy of the next day's paper and had his picture taken while he was doing it. This photo was also published on the Internet.
In his conversation with Dowd, Obama likened his experience in the Berlin gym with a scene from the movie "The Color of Money."
"Do you remember 'The Color of Money' with Paul Newman?" Obama asked Dowd. "And Forest Whitaker is sort of sitting there, acting like he doesn't know how to play pool. And then he hustles the hustler."
"Let's Enjoy her Sexytime Memories"
Obama wasn't the only one to comment on Bonesky's antics. Center-left German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: "This report -- that much can already be said -- is like a match point won, like a journalistic landing on the moon, for Miss or Mrs. Bonesky."
The translated Bild report was rapidly picked up by US blogs, where it became the subject of endless derision.
Bonesky is actually 27. "Let's enjoy her sexytime memories, together," the Washington blog Wonkette said, recalling the encounter in a wooden translation of the Bild report that evokes fictional reporter Borat in his comedy "Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
What does this story teach us? Even Obama -- with his amazing people skills -- still has lessons to learn. “I'm just realizing what I've got to become accustomed to," he told Dowd.
With reporting by Björn Hengst
Stay informed with our free news services:
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
Corriere della Sera
MORE FROM SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
German PoliticsMerkel's Moves: Power Struggles in Berlin
World War IITruth and Reconciliation: Why the War Still Haunts Europe
EnergyGreen Power: The Future of Energy
European UnionUnited Europe: A Continental Project
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming: Curbing Carbon Before It's Too Late